Kenny ready to embrace the task at Dundalk
"A team that fancies itself might find itself at the bottom of the table after seven games." - Stephen Kenny
With next to no budget for marketing the league these days, they work with what comes to hand at FAI headquarters at Abbotstown where the fixture list has the advantage of being both flexible and free.
Stephen Kenny has an air of resignation when asked about it all. He could have done with something a little less challenging for his first league game in charge of Dundalk but pitting him against the club that dispensed with his services less than a season after luring him down from Derry?
Well, you couldn’t buy that sort of publicity. No, really, they couldn’t but thankfully they don’t have to.
“Yeah, we’re playing Shamrock Rovers, Derry City are playing Sligo and Limerick are playing Cork . . . there’s no doubt they are not random, there’s no doubt that the fixtures are fixed. From a marketing point of view it makes sense but in terms of the integrity of the process, I don’t see how you can do it.”
Still, he acknowledges with a sigh: “that’s the match that’s on and we have got to prepare ourselves for it but in terms of getting points on the board, it’s a tough challenge”.
The Dubliner comes across as being more than a little raw about his treatment by Rovers last year when he was shown the door without ever having had a free hand to really shape the squad. At Oriel Park, he has certainly had that but with most of the constraints you would expect at a club that finished bottom of the table against a background of serious financial and organisational problems four months ago.
“I’m sort of used to taking over teams at the bottom,” he says. “Longford were at the bottom of the First Division and Bohs – although they had a strong set-up – were ninth when I took over, had to rebuild and won the league the following year.
“I took over at Derry the year after the relegation play-off and we went on to have two strong seasons. So this board reminds me of when I went to Derry first. There is just a lot of goodwill.”
The mood at Dundalk is certainly upbeat with the supporters apparently enthused by being given more of a say in the running of a club that is now presided over by people who have a long history of involvement in the game.
Money is tight but Kenny has assembled what he reckons is a technically strong squad with the proverbial mix of youth and experience. A title challenge is unlikely – although locals might point in the direction of Drogheda who surprised just about everybody last season – but a serious improvement on what was pretty much a 10-month nightmare is certainly on the cards.